THE CARIES EXPERIENCE IN CHILD AND ADOLESCENTS DENTAL CARE IN DENMARK FROM 1972 TO 2022. A NARRATIVE INTERPRETATION OF SUCCESS
BACKGROUND – The Danish parliament passed by law in 1971 that the municipalities should introduce free outreach dental care for school children in Denmark.
PURPOSE – To illustrate the improvements in caries experience expressed through defs/DMFS of 7- and 15-year-olds in the period over 50 years from 1972-2022 and to discuss which initiatives have most likely had the greatest influence on the development.
MATERIAL AND METHOD – Both cross-sectional and cohort caries data for 7- and 15-year-olds have been collected from the registration system of the oral status of children and adolescents, which the Danish National Board of Health collects yearly from all the municipalities in Denmark. Relevant clinical studies are traced from Danish dental journals, supplemented with international literature.
RESULTS – Average defs in 7-year-olds was 12.5 in 1972/73, falling to 6.6 in 1992 and to 1.78 in 2022. In 15-year-olds, the average DMFS in 1982/83 was 11.4, falling to 4 .36 in 1992 to 1.02 in 2022. Caries growth at cohort level measured for 3-5-7-year-olds (defs, cohorts a-d) and for 7-15- year-olds (DMFS, cohorts A-F) fell significantly from 1972/73 to 2022. The literature indicates that especially 1) the establishment of the dental care scheme in 1972 and its expansion over the years, 2) the continuous focus on quality toothbrushing, 3) use of fluoride-containing products, 4) use of fissure sealants with the changed views on when filling therapy should be performed. and 5) caries riskrelated programs, according to individual needs, e.g. The Nexø method and the Odder model have all had a significant effect on the caries reduction achieved.
CONCLUSION – The above-mentioned factors have very likely contributed to reducing caries experience from being extremely high to extremely low over 50 years.